Mohun Bagan Super Giants` Jason Steven Cummings with a player of Punjab FC during ISL (Indian Super League) 2023-24 match between Mohun Bagan Super Giants and Punjab FC, at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata. Pic/PTI
Mohun Bagan Super Giants kicked off their title defence with a 3-1 thrashing of Punjab FC in the Indian Super League (ISL 2023-24), here on Saturday. Following a delayed start, Mohun Bagan dominated the proceedings against the I-League promoted side and had a 2-0 cushion going into the halftime with goals from Jason Cummings (ninth) and Dimitri Petratos (34th). After the changeover, Luka Majcen (53rd) pulled one back from a sloppy back pass by Glan Martins.
But it was not enough as Mohun Bagan pumped in another through India forward Manvir Singh (63rd) to start the season on an emphatic note. Set up by India midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, Cummings took a left-footed strike from the right side of the six-yard box to give the Mariners an early lead, which was doubled through Petratos, who utilised a pass from Liston Colaco before launching his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
Minutes after he was brought in as a replacement for Subhasish Bose, Manvir used a Petratos cross to shoot to the top left corner with his powerful right-footed strike. The match was delayed by 35 minutes to avoid broadcasting issues as the first match of the day between Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC was interrupted due to bad weather. To avoid a clash of telecast, the second match of the Saturday double-header was deferred by 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC suffered a 0-2 loss against Odisha FC in their opening match of the tournament. Jerry Mawihmingthanga scored the opening goal of the match in the 44th minute while Diego Mauricio (62nd) added the second goal for Odisha FC.
Chennaiyin FC created several goal-scoring opportunities but missed the finishing touch. One of such chances came in the 21st minute when Rafael Crivellaro's strike was blocked by the opponent goalkeeper from the close distance. The visitors had almost opened their account in the 43rd minute but Connor Shields couldn't manage to convert a brilliant cross from Aakash Sangwan. Later, Farukh Choudhary's header went over the bar six minutes before the end.
Earlier, both sides continued their hunt for the opener relentlessly after a short interval due to rain. Chennaiyin goalkeeper Samik Mitra denied Odisha the lead in the 23rd minute with a brilliant save to keep out Isak Vanlalruatfela's left-footed shot from the centre of the box.
(With agency inputs)